The Ravens joined the NFL in 1996 under the ownership of Art Modell and since that first draft class where GM Ozzie Newsome secured two Hall of Famers in Jonathan Ogden and Ray Lewis the franchise has been known for its ability to find and develop talent. 

With all their success nobody is perfect and for every Pro Bowler selected there are several others who will forever be recognized as busts. 

Next week Baltimore will take part in its 29th NFL Draft, so let’s look back at the previous twenty eight and look at the best and worst of the Ravens in Round One.  

*Please note that I’m excluding current Hall of Famers, Ogden, Lewis, and Reed from the list.
We could have some spirited debate over how these three should be ranked but I’d rather get some other names involved in the discussion. 

TOP FIVE 

5- Peter Boulware (#4 pick 1997) 

Boulware recorded 66 total tackles, and 11 ½ sacks to receive the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award. He was one of the key cogs that established the Ravens as a franchise known for tenacious defense during his eight years with the team. He went to 4 Pro Bowls, 1 All Pro selection and was the Ravens all-time leader in sacks before being replaced at the top by Terrell Suggs in 2010. 

4- Jamal Lewis (#5 pick 2000) 

Lewis had that rare combination of strength and speed that made him a back that most didn’t want to have to tackle. During his seven seasons with the team, he’s best known for his outstanding 2003 campaign where he rushed for over 2,066 yards (3rd all-time) and rushed for 295 in one game. A member of the 2000 championship team, he was also the youngest player ever to play in a win a Super Bowl. Many long-time fans wonder if the Ravens would have made another run at glory the following season if not for his ACL tear during the pre-season of 2001. 

3- Joe Flacco (#18 pick 2008) 

Flacco was thrust into the starting lineup during his rookie season as intended starter Troy Smith had a sever case of tonsilitis and Kyle Boller had suffered a shoulder injury. Flacco didn’t relinquish the starting role until midway through 2018. During that time he helped lead the Ravens to the playoffs 6 times, winning the AFC North twice, appearing in three AFC Championship games and one Super Bowl championship. Flacco’s post-season run to the title was historic as he tied Joe Montana’s single season record for touchdown passes without an interception (11). At the time Flacco was considered a reach in the first round as he became the highest drafted player ever out of the University of Delaware.  

2- Lamar Jackson (#32 pick 2018) 

Many pundits and scouts doubted Jackson’s abilities as a quarterback and felt a position switch might be a better move. On draft night the Ravens traded up with Philadelphia and Jackson was the fifth quarterback taken that year. Jackson replaced Joe Flacco in November and as a starter went 6-1 leading Baltimore to the playoffs. He was the youngest quarterback to start a playoff game that season. The following year he set a single season record for QB rushing yards and led the league in touchdown passes. He was named the second unanimous MVP in league history in 2019. Jackson continues to challenge the norm of what a quarterback is supposed to be as his athleticism is unparalleled at the position. Jackson received his second MVP award this past season as he led the team to its first AFC Championship game in 12 years. If Jackson continues to build on post-season success and even win a championship, he will be yet another Hall of Famer to wear the purple and black. 

1- Terrell Suggs (#10 pick 2003) 

T-Sizzle is a seven-time Pro Bowler, Two-time All Pro and was named Defensive Player of the Year in 2011. He won a Super Bowl for Baltimore in 2012 and is 8th on the All-time sack list and 1st all-time in tackles for a loss. Suggs made an immediate impact for Rex Ryan’s defense and finished the season with 12 sacks (rookie franchise record) and was Defensive Rookie of Year in 2003. Suggs is eligible for induction into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2025 (along with Marshall Yanda) and most likely will get in as his resume stacks up with recent inductees such as Jason Taylor and Dwight Freeney. 

BOTTOM FIVE 

5- Travis Taylor (#10 pick 2000) 

Taylor didn’t make much of an impact in his rookie season aside from a two touchdown performance in week two and was injured during the post season. Taylor’s best year was in 2002 where he had 61 catches for 869 yards and 6 touchdowns. He was released after a poor season where he didn’t have a touchdown catch in 2004. He then spent two seasons with the Vikings before bouncing around to several teams before he was out of the league after 2009. When fans say that Baltimore has had trouble drafting and developing receivers it all started with this pick. 

4- Hayden Hurst (#25 pick 2018) 

The 2018 draft is one of the most successful in recent history for the Ravens. In it they landed Lamar Jackson, Orlando Brown Jr., and Mark Andrews. But one glaring blemish in that class is Hurst who ended up catching only 43 passes for 512 yards and 3 touchdowns before being traded to Atlanta. Hurst wanted a larger role in the offense and Andrews, who was picked two rounds later, had become one of Jackson’s favorite targets. Hurst most recently signed with the Chargers after stints with the Falcons, Bengals, and Panthers. In hindsight it may have better served the team to have take Calvin Ridley at #25 instead of the of traded Hurst. 

3- Breshad Perriman (#26 pick 2015) 

Perriman was expected to boost the passing game, but he spent more time healing from various injuries than on the field for Baltimore. His best season was in 2016 where he caught 33 passes for 499 yards and 3 touchdowns. He’s currently in his second stint with Tampa Bay and while he’s shown some flashes there, he’s largely underperformed for a former first round selection. 

2- Kyle Boller (#19 pick 2003) 

It’s difficult for younger Ravens fans to think of a time when the quarterback position was unsettled season to season. The hope was the Boller would be the man to build the franchise around for the future. The rumor was that his arm as so strong that he could throw a football through the goalpost … from his knees. Unfortunately, that arm strength didn’t have the accuracy that was necessary at the pro level. When the rush was on, he’d display “happy feet” that led to mistakes and turnovers. After five seasons in Charm City, he started in 42 games and could only muster a 56% competition percentage while tossing 45 touchdowns against 44 interceptions. 

1- Matt Elam (#32 pick 2013) 

The former Florida standout was selected to fill the very large shoes of Ed Reed at the back end of the defense. By the time he left Baltimore he finished with 1 career interception, 2 stints on Injured Reserve and finally a drug bust that left him out of a job. Elam actually showed promise during his rookie season, but his sophomore campaign was a disaster where struggled to cover in open space and make tackles. 

Matt Jergensen
Matt Jergensen

Matt has lived in Maryland his entire life and is a graduate of Calvert Hall and Towson University. has always been an avid Baltimore sports fan. Since 2007, he has been writing and talking about Baltimore sports, especially the Ravens. His work has appeared on Ravens Gab, Russell Street Report, and he currently co-hosts a podcast “The Blitz- A Ravens podcast” with Brent Harris.

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